Following a 38-30 win over the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium, the Seahawks have officially transitioned into offseason mode after a disappointing 7-10 campaign.
While the franchise didn't live up to lofty expectations coming off of an NFC West title and a 12-win season in 2020, several players still starred in all three phases for Seattle. Over the next two weeks, the Seahawk Maven writing staff will be naming their selections for end of season awards, including most valuable player, most improved, and many more.
Nearing the conclusion of our postseason awards, which defensive highlight stood out as Seattle's best in 2021? Our panel makes their picks:
Carlos Dunlap sacks Jimmy Garoppolo in the end zone for a safety in Week 13 win vs. 49ers
Corbin Smith: Up to this rematch at Lumen Field, Dunlap's 2021 season had been a huge disappointment. He had only a partial sack in 12 games, struggling to make an impact as a pass rusher. But while playing just seven snaps against the 49ers, he made the biggest play of the game, bullying right tackle Tom Compton into the end zone with a ferocious bull rush and promptly throwing Garoppolo down to the ground for a safety to spark the sellout crowd. Those two points proved to be huge, as San Francisco could have won the game in the closing moments. Instead, the extra insurance provided enough cushion for Seattle to be up 30-23 and ultimately make a goal line stand.
Nick Lee: Considering the 49ers are now playing in the NFC Championship game, this play carries even greater weight in a season with few positives for the Seahawks. They were tied 21-21 in the third quarter when Dunlap quickly provided a jolt for the Lumen Field crowd by driving his blocker into the end zone and tossing Garoppolo aside like a rag doll for two points. This play ignited Dunlap for the rest of the season, as he had seven more sacks in the last five games and played like a Pro Bowler after a horrible first half to the season.
Jamal Adams intercepts Taylor Heinicke in Monday Night Football loss to Washington
Ty Dane Gonzalez: Jamal Adams walked away from this play with the most important stat of all—the interception—but majority of the credit belongs to Quandre Diggs, who obliterated Washington tight end Logan Thomas in the seam. Diggs' loud hit popped the football 14 or so feet in the air and into the waiting arms of Adams for his second-ever pick in a Seahawks uniform. For the added (legal) punishment on top of the turnover, this play embodied the best of Seattle's 2021 defense and was reminiscent of another elite safety tandem from the franchise's recent past.
Rishi Rastogi: Admittedly, the Seahawks defense didn't have many highlights plays this season and uncharacteristically struggled to create turnovers. However, Adams' interception against the Washington Football Team was an excellent display of perfect safety play from both Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams. Diggs smacked tight end Logan Thomas at the catch point, while linebacker Bobby Wagner got a piece of the football and knocked it up into the air. Rushing underneath the ball, Adams secured his second interception in three weeks to turn Washington away with zero points after driving deep into Seattle territory.
Seahawks orchestrate goal line stand to close out 49ers in Week 13 victory.
Colby Patnode: Perhaps no drive better encapsulated the Seahawks' 2021 defense more than the attempted game-tying drive by the 49ers in Week 13. San Francisco moved up the field with little resistance before landing inside the 10-yard line, looking poised to knot the game up late in regulation. With 22 seconds left in the game and the 49ers at the three-yard line, Carlos Dunlap got his long arms up in the air and knocked down a pass that looked like an easy touchdown, securing a 30-23 victory against their bitter division rival.